On June 8, 1995 Mike Harris became the twenty-second Premier of Ontario following a landslide election victory. The “Common Sense Revolution” platform resonated with Ontario voters. The Progressive Conservative’s swept to power giving assurances they would address big government, wasteful spending and rising unemployment.
For the next four years, Mr. Harris cut taxes, introduced measures to reduce bureaucracy and eliminated barriers to growth. The economy grew, unemployment fell and jobs and investment returned. While many of the measures implemented were vigorously opposed, four years later, the voters of Ontario re-elected Mike Harris making him the first Ontario Premier in more than 30 years to form a second consecutive majority government.
Throughout his years in public life, Mike Harris has strongly favoured tax cuts and support of small business. His government set higher standards for Ontario schools, teachers and students; action was taken to modernize healthcare and legislation passed to make government more accountable and efficient. Harris was one of only two Ontario Premiers to introduce legislation reducing the size of the legislature and the first premier in a century whose government balanced the provincial budget three years in a row.
As a Senior Fellow at the Fraser Institute, Mr. Harris has been highly critical of Canadian foreign policy, particularly Canada’s current relationship with the United States. In a speech presented at the Institute’s eighteenth annual Dr. Harold Walter Siebens Lecture in April, Mr. Harris said, “The federal government does not respect or value this relationship. It does not understand that it is Canada’s most important strategic asset.” He added “Nurturing a strong relationship with the United States is the most effective way of ensuring that Canada’s voice continues to be heard on the international stage. It’s by far the most effective way for Canada to influence the course of world events. And it is the most effective way to advance Canada’s interests on key issues that matter to us as a country.”